With this week’s August 14 Florida House of Representatives announcement of 2014 House Committee members, the United Florida Horsemen noted with interest the addition of State Representative Erik Fresen (R-Miami), along with three other new members to the House Select Committee on Gaming.
Representative Fresen was a primary sponsor of a 2012 bill that sought to bring destination casino resorts to Florida.
“In his efforts, Representative Fresen certainly approached the issue with considerable thought,” remarked Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (FHBPA) Executive Director Kent Stirling, who represents 6,000 horsemen who own and train Thoroughbred horses in the state of Florida.
The additional legislators assigned to the House Gaming Committee include former 2013 House Majority Leader/2014 State Affairs Chairman State Representative Steve Precourt (R-Orlando), State Representatives Jim Boyd (R-Bradenton) and Jared Moskowitz (D-Coral Springs).
“Florida’s horsemen are optimistic that the addition of senior House members and bipartisan input will provide the perspective and additional experience needed to craft beneficial public policy that will help our members’ businesses and jobs thrive in Florida,” Stirling said.
A small portion of slot machine revenues from Miami-Dade and Broward racinos is used to augment prize money (purses) for which horsemen compete. After watching horse owners and trainers being lured to other states that offered larger, slot-bolstered purses, Florida horsemen supported the introduction of slot machines into the state for the sole purpose of increasing purses to ensure Florida remained competitive in the national horse racing circuit.
“Naturally, it gravely concerns our members that casino-only interests are now attempting to diminish horse racing’s $2.2 billion dollar economic impact in Florida by framing our industry in a diminutive, negative way.” Stirling added.